Bafana Bafana still hopeful of qualifying against Atlas Lions

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After defeating neighbors Namibia 1-0, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana are hopeful of avhieving qualification to the knockout stages when they play already qualified Morocco on Monday (1 July 2019) at the Cairo based El Salam Stadium. Cote d’Ivoire faces Namibia in a simultaneous kickoff (18:00 local time, 16:00 GMT) at 30 June Stadium, also in Cairo.

Morocco top the group with 6 points from two matches, three more than Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa, while Namibia trails the pack pointless.

It’s the fifth time both sides lock horns in AFCON finals, with Bafana Bafana having the upper hand with two victories and two draws.

Previous AFCON meetings

22.02.1998     Ouagadougou             Morocco 1-2 South Africa

30.01.2002     Segou                         Morocco 1-3 South Africa

04.02.2004     Sousse                        Morocco 1-1 South Africa

27.01.2013     Durban                        Morocco 2-2 South Africa

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter admitted his side is going to face a very tough opposition in the form of Morocco’s Atlas Lions. But he vowed that his side will do their best.

“Playing against Morocco is going to be very difficult but beating Namibia has given us the needed confidence before such a critical game. We will solve our problems and we have got the passion to please our supporters here and back in South Africa”, said the English coach.

Meanwhile, Morocco’s coach Herve Renard confirmed his side is not going to feel relieved despite booking their next round ticket already.

Renard, the only coach to win AFCON titles with two different teams, looks desperate to achieve an unprecedented treble this year. “We need to focus because we qualified but we didn’t guarantee top spot yet”, the Frenchman said before the game.

‘South Africa is a very good team and we will discuss whether we produce some changes in the lineup or not. We are in a good situation winning both opening matches, but we just want to continue winning”, added Renard.

Herve Renard, head coach of Morocco arrives before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on 28 June 2019 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

What they said

Stuart Baxter (Coach, South Africa)

Playing against Morocco is a tough mission. We gained the needed confidence after defeating Namibia. We have to play without pressure and I believe all our players are focused now. We need to solve our problems and do whatever it takes to make our supporters happy.

Percy Tau (Forward, South Africa)

We will do our best because we need to win. We are one unit and will do everything together as a team. Our target is to reach the next round.

Herve Renard (Coach, Morocco)

Yes we are in the next round but we haven’t guaranteed top spot yet. I know South Africa well and they are a very good team. We may have some changes in the lineup, but we have to discuss that first. The mood is very good after winning our opening two matches, but we have to keep on winning.

Noureddine Amrabat (Midfielder, Morocco)

We have six points and we need to top the group. Our target is to make Moroccans happy so we will play to win despite it’s going to be a tough match against South Africa.